Nataki Thompson knows her purpose in life.
Though the 14-year-old Scarborough Secondary student sang her way to the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO)/ First Citizens Junior Calypso Monarch title at the Queen's Park Savannah on Monday, she said she wants to be a lawyer.
She is focused on attaining her goal and values her experience in the calypso competition as a step on her journey to destiny.
Singing in position number eight in a competitive field of 16, Thompson delivered a strong rendition of her song Your Purpose to edge 2024 Primary School Soca Monarch winner Zachary Ransome into the second spot.
Thompson will receive a $30,000 prize and a trophy. During the delivery of her title-winning performance, Thompson called on the nation's youth to spend time finding their calling and stay clear of negative thoughts, company and nefarious activities.
"Bring back love, bring back peace!" Thompson chanted repeatedly, as she strolled out to face a receptive Grand Stand audience.
Thompson's presentation showcased a young girl and a boy – her 11-year-old brother – portraying the roles of two wayward youths caught up in the block life. But her song reverberated around the arena with a piercing point for those who listened keenly enough.
"The song is really about finding your purpose in life. Many people do not know their purpose in life," Thompson told the media after clinching the title.
"I know my purpose is to be a lawyer when I grow up."
As she gracefully made her way across the stage, Thompson's song honed in on the message that success depended on an individual's mindset.
"Look in the mirror and see if you can find peace. Ignite the flame of real love in your heart," Thompson sang.
Thompson, who only started singing calypso last year, thanked her family and her music teacher and mentor, Cheryl Duncan, for their unwavering support.
Her mother, Marsha Thompson, and her brother Mehida, a Scarborough RC Primary School student, were both over the moon when Nataki was announced as the winner.
By the time Nataki struck the last note in her performance, Mehida took a strong look at his reflection in the mirror on stage and walked away from the smoking, gambling and gun-wielding ways which he had been consumed by during the skit. He wanted to walk a straight path.
Nataki said young people have the power to do the same in their daily lives.
"(I would say) they should ignore the negativity if they need help. You can always ask someone for advice. Focus on yourself.
"They need to focus on finding their purpose instead of the negative."
Nataki does not see herself singing calypso in the long run, but in the immediate future, she wants to capture the Tobago Junior Calypso Monarch title this Friday.
In a few days, Nataki will again battle with Bishop's High School Tobago student Koquice Davidson, who placed third with her composition Something Wrong. She will receive a $20,000 prize and a trophy.
Like many of her competitors, Davidson focused on the theme of violence and disobedience in schools, and she even suggested amendments to the United Nations' 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, saying children now seem to be abusing their power within the school system.
"As children, we have rights, but we also have responsibilities," she said as she walked on stage.
Davidson's performance started with an interpretation of what has become an all-too-familiar scene on social media – a teacher overpowered in a class of rowdy students. In the skit, objects were thrown at the teacher, who was then threatened with further action by the unruly student.
In the dramatisation of the skit, the UN Secretary-General is held at gunpoint by a student, with Davidson asking the audience to join her call for a review of the UN declaration which was adopted by the UN General Assembly. The declaration includes children's rights to protection, education, health care, shelter, and good nutrition.
Davidson was quite emotional after getting her third-place prize, and she was proud to be in the top three alongside Nataki.
"The results were shocking," Davidson told reporters.
"We never thought a Tobagonian would have been the monarch. As Tobagonians, we feel very much elated."
She also spoke about the origin of her song.
"The song is really about what is going on in our society, children and in our schools," Davidson said, of the composition which was written by National award winner Verleen Bobb-Lewis.
"Children are being disrespectful in school, and we are just asking for a revision of the declaration which was created in 1959."
Ransome's Save The Teacher also focused on school violence and indiscipline in school.
He placed second and will receive a $25,000 prize and a trophy.
The Montrose Government Primary School student had a different twist to his upbeat offering, though, calling for more respect for the teachers.
"I saw all the stress teachers are going through," Ransome said, "so I asked my father, 'Daddy, can you please write a song about saving the teachers.'"
Fresh from his win in the Primary School Soca Monarch last Thursday, Ransome vowed to be a voice for the teachers and asked his fellow students and the Grand Stand crowd to join him and stand in solidarity with educators.
Ransome's compatriots lined the stage with various placards, which included messages such as, "We come here to write, not fight," and "Miss is not a punching bag."
As he finished his song on a thunderous high, Ransome chanted, "Save the teachers, right now. Love yuh teacher, right now!"
Ransome had the crowd eating out of his hands, and the Rankatang singer promised to deliver more in 2025.
"Last year, I got (third place) in the Junior Calypso Monarch. It means I am getting closer," Ransome said.
"It is a number sequence, so I have to go with the flow. I am going to bring it harder next year."
Outgoing champion A'Janae King Fraser had a wobbly start in her performance of One Step Away, but a strong and confident finish saw her eventually grabbing the fourth spot.
Crowd favourites Janaya Clarke, nine, and Xhaidien Darius, seven, may be little in stature but their powerful performances of For Good and For God and De Cultural Mecca earned them rapturous applause as they finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
In total, TUCO said 45 prizes would be distributed as the contestants were rewarded in a host of different categories.